Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

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Big Bold Beowulf: A Study of the Poem

Always wanted to study Beowulf? Here's your opportunity. In our 8 hours together, we will delve into the worlds of the poem, examine the major critical elements, and seek to understand the poem better.
Precepted by Dr. Larry Swain

Book Club: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Ha! Ha! You’re Mine!

Considered the first sci-fi novel, Frankenstein is much more than the famous monster who has entered pop culture. From philosophy to science, this novel deals with many issues, confuses the reader, and makes us wonder who the real hero is. We will discuss the themes, imagery, character development, and the many different allusions to other texts mentioned in the book in a relaxed and interactive way.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Book Club: Chapterhouse Dune 1 First in the Series

In this two-month module, we will read and discuss the Frank Herbert's final Dune novel, Chapterhouse Dune. The universe as we know it is gone, as the Honored Matres sweep across the stars and destroy everything in their path. On the remote world Chapterhouse, a handful of rebel Bene Gesserit fight to preserve the last sandworms and the hope of humanity...

Whether you are a new or continuing student in our Dune book club, all are welcome to join this class. Connect with book lovers, compare to the adaptations, and share your insights.

Let the spice flow!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Chapterhouse Dune 2 Continuing Series

In this two-month module, we will read and discuss the Frank Herbert's final Dune novel, Chapterhouse Dune. The universe as we know it is gone, as the Honored Matres sweep across the stars and destroy everything in their path. On the remote world Chapterhouse, a handful of rebel Bene Gesserit fight to preserve the last sandworms and the hope of humanity...

Whether you are a new or continuing student in our Dune book club, all are welcome to join this class. Connect with book lovers, compare to the adaptations, and share your insights.

Let the spice flow!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Chapterhouse Dune Series

In this two-month module, we will read and discuss the Frank Herbert's final Dune novel, Chapterhouse Dune. The universe as we know it is gone, as the Honored Matres sweep across the stars and destroy everything in their path. On the remote world Chapterhouse, a handful of rebel Bene Gesserit fight to preserve the last sandworms and the hope of humanity...

Whether you are a new or continuing student in our Dune book club, all are welcome to join this class. Connect with book lovers, compare to the adaptations, and share your insights.

Let the spice flow!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Gulping gargoyles, let's read the next Harry Potter book!

By popular demand, here is the long-awaited Harry Potter book club! We will get together twice a week to explore the series, reading through the books at a relaxed pace. Connect with fellow readers and share your insights as we discover (or rediscover) the magic.

Over one month, we will follow twelve-year-old Harry's adventures as he uncovers the dark secrets lurking beneath Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Whispers and plots abound within the castle, as Harry must confront the evil legacy of Voldemort.

This book club is all about sharing the moments of unexpected, joyful discovery through close reading. Focusing on the text, we will share our personal readings and experiences. We will learn from our classmates in a kindness-first, supportive environment.

Together, we can tackle some big questions about the series. What was it about the Harry Potter books that resonated with so many people? To what extent is it possible or indeed desirable to separate art from artist?

Most of all, however, we will have an inclusive dialogue that embraces a multiplicity of views and enriches our experience of the text.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 1 First in the Series

Wands at the ready, let's read the fourth Harry Potter book!

We will get together twice a week to explore the series, reading through the books at a relaxed pace. Connect with fellow readers and share your insights as we discover (or rediscover) the magic.

Over two months, we will follow fourteen-year-old Harry's adventures as he is forced to compete in the deadly Triwizard Tournament. But who entered him in the tournament, and why? The answers will reveal the dark forces poised to destroy the wizarding world...

This book club is all about sharing the moments of unexpected, joyful discovery through close reading. Focusing on the text, we will share our personal readings and experiences. We will learn from our classmates in a kindness-first, supportive environment.

Together, we can tackle some big questions about the series. What was it about the Harry Potter books that resonated with so many people? To what extent is it possible or indeed desirable to separate art from artist?

Most of all, however, we will have an inclusive dialogue that embraces a multiplicity of views and enriches our experience of the text.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 2 Continuing Series

Wands at the ready, let's read the fourth Harry Potter book!

We will get together twice a week to explore the series, reading through the books at a relaxed pace. Connect with fellow readers and share your insights as we discover (or rediscover) the magic.

Over two months, we will follow fourteen-year-old Harry's adventures as he is forced to compete in the deadly Triwizard Tournament. But who entered him in the tournament, and why? The answers will reveal the dark forces poised to destroy the wizarding world...

This book club is all about sharing the moments of unexpected, joyful discovery through close reading. Focusing on the text, we will share our personal readings and experiences. We will learn from our classmates in a kindness-first, supportive environment.

Together, we can tackle some big questions about the series. What was it about the Harry Potter books that resonated with so many people? To what extent is it possible or indeed desirable to separate art from artist?

Most of all, however, we will have an inclusive dialogue that embraces a multiplicity of views and enriches our experience of the text.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Series

Wands at the ready, let's read the fourth Harry Potter book!

We will get together twice a week to explore the series, reading through the books at a relaxed pace. Connect with fellow readers and share your insights as we discover (or rediscover) the magic.

Over two months, we will follow fourteen-year-old Harry's adventures as he is forced to compete in the deadly Triwizard Tournament. But who entered him in the tournament, and why? The answers will reveal the dark forces poised to destroy the wizarding world...

This book club is all about sharing the moments of unexpected, joyful discovery through close reading. Focusing on the text, we will share our personal readings and experiences. We will learn from our classmates in a kindness-first, supportive environment.

Together, we can tackle some big questions about the series. What was it about the Harry Potter books that resonated with so many people? To what extent is it possible or indeed desirable to separate art from artist?

Most of all, however, we will have an inclusive dialogue that embraces a multiplicity of views and enriches our experience of the text.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Blimey, let's read the third Harry Potter book!
We will get together twice a week to explore the series, reading through the books at a relaxed pace. Connect with fellow readers and share your insights as we discover (or rediscover) the magic.

Over one month, we will follow thirteen-year-old Harry's adventures as he contends with an escaped mass murderer. Yet all is not as it seems. As Harry grapples with the consequences of a hidden betrayal, he must confront the meaning of fear. Failure may just cost him his soul…

This book club is all about sharing the moments of unexpected, joyful discovery through close reading. Focusing on the text, we will share our personal readings and experiences. We will learn from our classmates in a kindness-first, supportive environment.

Together, we can tackle some big questions about the series. What was it about the Harry Potter books that resonated with so many people? To what extent is it possible or indeed desirable to separate art from artist?

Most of all, however, we will have an inclusive dialogue that embraces a multiplicity of views and enriches our experience of the text.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Merlin's beard, let's read the first Harry Potter book!

By popular demand, here is the long-awaited Harry Potter book club! We will get together twice a week to explore the series, reading through the books at a relaxed pace. Connect with fellow readers and share your insights as we discover (or rediscover) the magic.

First, we will go back to where it all began, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Over one month, we will follow eleven-year-old Harry's adventures as he commences his study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Together, we will explore themes like friendship, courage, and the power of love.

This book club is all about sharing the moments of unexpected, joyful discovery through close reading. Focusing on the text, we will share our personal readings and experiences. We will learn from our classmates in a kindness-first, supportive environment.

Together, we can tackle some big questions about the series. What was it about the Harry Potter books that resonated with so many people? To what extent is it possible or indeed desirable to separate art from artist?

Most of all, however, we will have an inclusive dialogue that embraces a multiplicity of views and enriches our experience of the text.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Heretics of Dune 1 First in the Series

In this two-month module, we will read and discuss the fifth Dune novel, Heretics of Dune. 1500 years after the reign of Leto II, humanity is locked on the path laid out by the tyrant. Yet a new threat emerges from the shadows: the Honored Matres, a deadly ecstatic cult bent upon the destruction of the planet Dune...

Whether you are a new or continuing student in our Dune book club, all are welcome to join this class. Connect with book lovers, compare to the adaptations, and share your insights.

Let the spice flow!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Heretics of Dune 2 Continuing Series

In this two-month module, we will read and discuss the fifth Dune novel, Heretics of Dune. 1500 years after the reign of Leto II, humanity is locked on the path laid out by the tyrant. Yet a new threat emerges from the shadows: the Honored Matres, a deadly ecstatic cult bent upon the destruction of the planet Dune...

Whether you are a new or continuing student in our Dune book club, all are welcome to join this class. Connect with book lovers, compare to the adaptations, and share your insights.

Let the spice flow!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: Heretics of Dune Series

In this two-month module, we will read and discuss the fifth Dune novel, Heretics of Dune. 1500 years after the reign of Leto II, humanity is locked on the path laid out by the tyrant. Yet a new threat emerges from the shadows: the Honored Matres, a deadly ecstatic cult bent upon the destruction of the planet Dune...

Whether you are a new or continuing student in our Dune book club, all are welcome to join this class. Connect with book lovers, compare to the adaptations, and share your insights.

Let the spice flow!
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Book Club: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Epistolary fiction may have you thinking of Frankenstein and Dracula, but they were just the beginning. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone builds on the epistolary tradition while creating a whole new experience with their epistolary science fiction/time travel/lgbtqia+ romance novella. We will explore the framing, narrative, metaphor, character, and linguistic choices of the authors in depth as we take our time dissecting this novella with fellow book lovers.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens

Children's Literature Modules: Exploring the Magic, Depth, and Adventures in Children's Books

This is the parent page for our Children's Literature modules which introduce students to the breadth and depth of texts available for study. Each month, our preceptors survey the group to see which text students are most interested in exploring next.

Children's books are full of unforgettabel characters, settings, and adventures. They take us to magic, often dangerous lands, and they also evoke beautiful imagery and deep feelings. In these modules we will explore from the gentleness of Japanese children's books to the wild Pippi Longstocking. We'll talk about their themes, setting, worldbuilding, and imagery.

Each module stands on it own, and no previous knowledge is required. Some of the texts we could explore in a given month include:
Nordic Madness: Exploring Children's Literature in Three Nordic Authors
Japanese Fairy Tales and Children's Literature

Note: Please refer to the Required Texts section on a month's iteration page to see which texts the group has decided upon for a given month.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Exploring Journey to the West 西遊記

One of the most beloved of all classical Chinese novels, Journey to the West features Monkey, Pig, Sand-demon, White Horse, and the monk Tripitaka as they make a pilgrimage from Tang-dynasty Chang’an to India to bring back Buddhist scriptures, having outrageous adventures all along the way. Full of humor and wit, this is a major work of East Asian fantastic literature. Come along with Monkey and the gang for a tour through this foundational text!
Precepted by Dr. Robert Steed

Exploring Natsume’s Book of Friends: Part 1 First in the Series

Natsume’s Book of Friends is a contemplative and heartfelt anime/manga series about a boy who inherited a book from his grandmother, allowing him to control youkai. Instead, he chooses to free them. This series sits at the intersection of fantasy and slice of life, and it touches on many aspects of Japanese folklore and culture, at the same time telling a story about connection and compassion. In this module, we will watch and discuss the first two seasons of the anime, paying particular attention to themes including: the iyashikei (healing) genre of anime, the portrayal of youkai in popular culture, and the use of concepts and imagery from Japanese literature and folklore in the series.

This module is primarily discussion based, with some contextual information provided by the preceptor. There will be a Google Doc for class discussion and your preceptor will use slides, but sparingly.

Exploring Natsume’s Book of Friends Series Series of 3

Natsume’s Book of Friends is a contemplative and heartfelt anime/manga series about a boy who inherited a book from his grandmother, allowing him to control youkai. Instead, he chooses to free them. This series sits at the intersection of fantasy and slice of life, and it touches on many aspects of Japanese folklore and culture, at the same time telling a story about connection and compassion.

This series is primarily discussion based, with some contextual information provided by the preceptor. There will be a Google Doc for class discussion and your preceptor will use slides, but sparingly.

Fairy Tales Studies: Exploring Fairy Tales from Around the World and from Different Authors

Sudying fairy tales takes us back to a time when stories where passed from culture to culture. These stories, replicated around the world, deal with fears and axieties, but they also give us hope as it is the smallest and most vulnerable the one who usually triumphs.

In these modules, we will explore different authors and fairy tales from around the world. Students will have the opportunity to read and re-read the Grimm brothers, Hans Christian Andersen, Andrew Lang, Oscar Wilde and fairy tales from differnet cultures such as Russia, and Japan. Each month, our preceptors will survey the group using to see which text students are most interested in exploring next.

We offer the following Fairy Tales Studies modules:
Fairy Tales: An Adventure from the Writer's Perspective
Fairy Tales: From Apples to Bears
Fairy Tales: Rats, Mice, and Birds
Fairy Tales: Tricksters, Fools, and Villains
Introduction to Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales
Introduction to Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales: A House of Pomegranates
Introduction to Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales: The Happy Prince and Other Tales
Japanese Fairy Tales and Children's Literature
Russian Fairy Tales: Journeys, Quests, and Chicken Legs
Yōkai and Legends: Exploring the Weird in Japanese and Latin American Cultures
Encountering the Japanese Weird through Lafcadio Hearn's Kwaidan
Exploring Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham
Fairy Tales: Beauty and the Beast

Note: Each module stands on its own and no previous knowledge is required. The idea is to read and discuss these stories, their themes, imagery, and see how we respond to them.
Precepted by Pilar Barrera

Midst: Adventures in Unusual Storytelling

The Midst podcast (which can be found at http://www.midst.co) is a strange and compelling space western horror science fantasy. . . hmmm. Let me start again.

Midst is a planetoid revolving in a cosmos very unlike our own, one that contains strange creatures bred from The Fold, a supernatural phenomenon that. . . no that's not it either.

This module will be a discussion guide to one of the most compellingly weird podcasts I've run across ever. I'm talking Welcome to Nightvale weird. The story is told by three anonymous and quite probably unreliable narrators, does not stick to usual story structures, veers off on tangents, and lands everything in a series of climactic episodes that are simply stunning. What we will be doing is experiencing season 1 of this podcast together and looking at how they are using various tools to tell this story, and whether they really are abandoning a lot of conventional storytelling wisdom. (Spoiler alert, I don't think they are.)

You will listen to all nineteen episodes over the course of the class. In class, we will discuss the episodes you've heard, using the frame of questions I will give you ahead of time. Our goal will be to tease out the various storytelling tools the writers used in the creation of their remarkable story. Some of these will be familiar literary tools, others will involve how they use sound and effects to heighten their narration. As each episode is on the order of half an hour long, you will have heard nine to ten hours of audio by the time the class ends.

I love this story and the way the writers have chosen to tell it. I would love to share that with you.

In the Age of Wonder: The Many Themes of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal, a film directed and created by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, was released at Christmastime in 1982. An attempt at a more mature and decidedly darker direction for Henson, it performed modestly in the box office to mixed reviews. Despite its poor initial beginnings, over the next 42 years, The Dark Crystal became a cult classic. Why the appeal all these years later? In this class we will explore this multifaceted dark fantasy as a stand of world building from the better appreciated “Muppet” canon. Over the course of eight sessions we will discuss the world of Thra through the film itself, seen afresh with the new lenses of various forms of modern criticism. Please join us for a combination of short lectures and lively discussion of this visual and technical masterpiece whether you’re a long-time fan or neophyte.
Precepted by Kerra Fletcher and Jay Moses

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Text, Translation, Film

Can Sir Gawain keep his honor without losing his head? This short classic of Middle English chivalric romance follows Gawain on a quest testing his heroism, social etiquette, sexual virtue, and existential sense of self. This course explores: first, the extraordinary history of the single, unique manuscript which preserves this poem (as it “slept” on a library shelf for 400 years, escaped destruction by fire, and was eventually rediscovered in the 19th century); second, the translations which brought this poem to a twentieth century readership – focusing in particular on J.R.R. Tolkien’s; and finally, the 2021 film by David Lowery.
Precepted by Dr. Liam Daley

The Minoans and Modernity: Minotaurs, Labyrinths, and Other Myths

When one thinks of ancient, pre-classical civilisations, one thinks of Sumerians, Egyptians, Hittites, and, not least, Minoans. The Minoan civilisation, discovered around 1900 by English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, has often been styled as the first major European civilisation, equally proficient in technology and the arts, with a sea empire spanning across the Eastern Aegean. But how much of what we imagine about the Minoans is truthful and how much is modern mythmaking?

In this module, we will examine the immense impact which the discovery of Minoan Crete and its integration with the classical myths of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth has had on literature, movies, the arts, and even computer games. We will examine the works of Sir Arthur Evans, Pablo Picasso, Nikos Kazantzakis, Robert Graves, Mary Renault, Poul Anderson, and Stephen King, among others. In so doing, we will explore such key 'Minoan' concepts and phenomena as: the sublime, utopianism, feminism, irrationality and the unconscious, mythmaking, and European identity.

The Women of Beowulf

Yes, there are indeed women in Beowulf. Vital and potent women in fact. From the valkyrie-esque figures to the weeping peace-weavers, a broad spectrum of women characters exists as both historical representation and imaginative mythology. Grendel's Mother is ferocious and masculine. Hildeburh laments the death of her brother and son before being carried off. Modthryth behaves like a sadistic queen. Wealhtheow is mindful of so much in her husband's hall. Freawaru seems destined for tragedy. And could the dragon be a female too? Maria Headley seems to think so. This module will explore this topic using dual-language editions of texts so we can see the original language alongside translations by J.R.R. Tolkien, Roy Liuzza, and Maria Headley.
Precepted by Dr. Chris Vaccaro

Tolkien and the Romantics: Dark Romanticism and the Gothic Literary Tradition

The Gothic genre has inspired many creative minds to explore the darker realms of human psychology and the wider world, sparking fear, terror, horror and repulsion in its audience. J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth is as much a ruined Gothic wasteland as it is an idyllic utopia. From Shelob's cave and the hypnotic Mirkwood to the Paths of the Dead and the Barrow-Downs, this module will examine Tolkien's use of Dark Romantic and Gothic techniques that were used by writers such as Horace Walpole, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and E.T.A. Hoffman to strike terror in the heart of their readers.

The module will follow an 8-lesson structure as follows:
• Lecture 1: The Funk of Forty Thousand Years: A Literary History of the Gothic
• Workshop 1: Chilly Echoes in Tolkien's Middle-earth
• Lecture 2: Bottomless Supernatural: Terror, Horror, Abject
• Workshop 2: Conjuring Creepy Creatures
• Lecture 3: The Weird, the Eerie, and the Dark Side of the Mind
• Workshop 3: Defamiliarising Middle-earth
• Lecture 4: Ruined Landscapes
• Workshop 4: What is left? Can the Gothic recover Middle-earth?

Note: The hybrid 8-lesson structure above is the new format for this module moving forward.
Precepted by Will Sherwood

Tolkien and the Romantics: Forging Myth and History

J.R.R. Tolkien famously 'found' his legendarium, translating and editing The Red Book of Westmarch for his twentieth century readers. This is not the first time an author has 'forged' a 'lost' literary history as James Macpherson's 'Ossian' documents from the 1760s started a craze for forgeries. Thomas Chatterton's Rowley and Turgot manuscripts similarly fed off the Ossian controversy while questioning what it really meant to 'forge' a document.

The module will follow an 8-lesson structure as follows:
• Lecture 1: The 1760s, the Age of Forgery
• Workshop 1: Which Red Book are we reading?
• Lecture 2: The Growth of Romantic Nationalism
• Workshop 2: The Book of Lost Tales: a mythology for which England?
• Lecture 3: Oral Traditions: Immortality and Youth
• Workshop 3: Vocalising Myth and History
• Lecture 4: Textual Traditions: Mortal Anxiety and Tangible History
• Workshop 4: Writing myth and history

Note: The hybrid 8-lesson structure above is the new format for this module moving forward.
Precepted by Will Sherwood

Video Game Studies

Inviting students to share their delight in, and deepen their appreciation of, video games, we will discuss examples of the art, music, gameplay, and story from a range of influential titles. We will introduce and experiment with some of the theoretical frameworks that have been applied to video games as media objects and cultural artifacts. But mostly, we will enjoy learning more about the medium and the games we already love. Aside from links and selections shared throughout the module, Gabrielle Zevin's novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. will be the only required reading.
Precepted by Wesley Schantz

Viking Hogwarts: The World of Old Norse Sorcery 2 Continuing Series

After having discussed the complex phenomenon of seidr magic in module 1, we are going to have a closer look at its most violent practices. Beyond domestic practices, sorcerous aggression manifested e.g. through driving the enemy insane, sending spirits to attack, causing misfortune and on a much broader scale on the battlefield.

A clear projection of supernatural intervention is offered by Odin‘s servants the valkyrjur, but also shapeshifting berserkers caught by ritual frenzy, with powers stemming from Odin himself, “The Terrible” in his sorcerous role. Battle spells also seem to have been preserved as literary remnants with a chance at authenticity derived from ideas in older poems, like ideas about war-fettering, invulnerability or disguise.

These elements of sorcery buried deep in the often problematic sources might help us better understand the potential mindset of pre-Christian Northern peoples and illuminated the often too tightly defined warrior identity.
Precepted by Dr. Irina Manea

Wayward Children Novellas: Part 2 Continuing Series

Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children has three rules: No Solicitations, No Visitors, and No Quests. Pity that most worlds give no care for rules not their own.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens

Wayward Children Novellas: Part 3 Continuing Series

Boarding schools have become a staple in fantasy, but Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children specializes in children that have stumbled into and then out of portals and haven't quite managed to adjust to being back from their adventures. There are three rules at Eleanor West's: No Solicitations, No Visitors, and No Quests.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens

Writers' Workshop Writing the Other: The Different Body Problem

It's a sometimes inconvenient fact that characters have bodies, and sometimes, those bodies directly affect the stories we write about them. Writing characters who live in bodies that do not perform according to the cultural standard is a skill like any other part of the writer's craft.

In this course, we will look at examples from literature of how authors have dealt with what we usually call disabilities. Some have done well, others have materially harmed people with their writing.

We will also work with one another to hone our craft as writers who are telling stories so that we can find the new and inspirational, while leaving behind the worn-out clichés that make the lives of people like your preceptor materially harder.

Note: Texts will be provided by the preceptor.

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.

Yōkai and Legends: Exploring the Weird in Japanese and Latin American Cultures

Ghost stories are an important element from all cultures, but in weird and, of course, mysterious ways, there seem to be similar legends and stories of Yōkai in Japanese and Latin American Cultures. From the similarities of Obon with Día de los Muertos to different legends such as Kuchisake onna and La Llorona, we will discuss these legends within their cultural context and have fun with these weird and fantastic beings.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].